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Longsuffering By Any Other Name

The Fruit of The Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

In the King James Version the word is longsuffering. The New International Version translates it as forbearance. The New Revised Standard Version uses patience. 1 Corinthians 13 says “love is patient.”

We tend to think of patience as waiting. But Galatians 5:22 and 1 Corinthians 13:4 are not about simple endurance or waiting. They are not about the patience of waiting in traffic, or the patience of waiting for a phone call from the doctor for your test result. Or even the patience of dealing with a technical support desk. (Note 1)

The patience in Galatians 5 and 1 Corinthians 13 is of a different kind of patience. It is the Greek word makrothymia (Note 2) which combines two word concepts: great distance and passionate fierceness. This is the patience of someone who has been terribly sinned or trespassed against, and who has the reason, the right, the ability, the opportunity and the power to avenge the wrong, but doesn’t do it. That is Fruit of The Spirit patience.

Note where and to whom Paul anchors the Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit is anchored to God and Jesus Christ (Note 3). Note also the Fruit of the Spirit is singular and not plural. Fruit not fruits. We can’t pick and choose which Fruit of the Spirit we will do today or in the moment. The Fruit of The Spirit function together. When the Fruit of the Spirit work together, they manifest the Spirit’s work in our lives. The force, power and character of Jesus Christ in and for us.

When we consider what makrothymia patience calls for – self-restraint instead of revenge – we might say, “That’s impossible.” That is why it is called Fruit of the Spirit. None of the fruit are things that we can manufacture or muster up enough strength to do on our own. This is the work of the Spirit of Christ in our lives. The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ whose character is shaping and forming us, so our lives exhibit the life of Christ in what we do and say.

Let us, then, be both patient and longsuffering. (Note 4)

From #theFruitofTheSpirit series

Note 1: The Greek New Testament word for that kind of patience is hypomenō (to wait under, to endure, to remain). That kind of patience is “patient endurance” (Luke 8:15) or “steadfastness of hope” (Thessalonians 1:3), or “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14). It is hypomenō patience, a cheerful waiting.

Note 2: Makrothymia: longanimity, steadfastness, long lasting, longsuffering, fortitude, perseverance.

Note 3: The letter to the Galatians begins with these words: Paul an apostle — sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead — and all the members of God’s family who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:1-5

Note 4: This post on The Fruit Of The Spirit has been adapted in part from an article by Dr. Neal Presa dated May 2021 (and updated May 2022). The reader is encouraged to read the full article HERE.

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